How to Deal With Food In Your Salon
Walking into your salon, you hear the familiar chorus of snipping scissors and blow-dryers blasting. The water is running in the sinks and brushes are swirling in color bowls—but what is that other sound? Is that…slurping? Sure enough, you turn around to see someone’s client snacking lazily mid-appointment and no amount of foiling, brushing, or hairspray seems to deter the hungry woman you see before you. But is this…okay? Or should you find a way to politely ask her to wait to finish her food? An anonymous BTC Community member was in a similar situation and is desperately looking for input: “It seems like because everyone’s so busy, running around crazed, that more and more of my clients are bringing food with them and then proceed to eat it during their appointment! The thought of me saying something is SO uncomfortable! Aside from the fact that it’s so unsanitary, do I buck up and say something anyways? Hang a sign? Has anyone else encountered this?”
For many of our BTC Facebook Fans, clients fitting in lunch between foils is essentially a non-issue. After all, as Jennifer Page says, “The clients write our paychecks!” As a salon owner, Yvonne Rosales encounters this situation frequently. To address it, she says of her and her staff: “We accommodate our guests, plain and simple! If they bring food, we help them to set up so they can eat comfortably and with respect. If they are hungry and didn’t bring food, we offer to order it in for them. Don’t stress about the little things.”
“As stylists who are equally busy in our work environment, often inhaling our food on a regular basis, I don’t see the problem with clients eating lunch. Keep some hand sanitizer at your station and provide some pretty napkins and a cup of tea! It’s not a big deal. The point is that this is “their” time, which the client is paying good money for! Let it go,” advises Cathy Fenton. Jesika Jensen Pearce suggests that, “If it’s a cut, then let them eat during the blow dry; if it’s a color, then let them eat during processing. I can’t believe people are saying no food AND no drink. Why can’t they have a drink? It’s not a big deal and all the best salons offer drinks at the very least. If you treat your guests well, you will have them forever. If a mess is the problem, then as they are heading out, politely say, ‘Do you mind taking this too?’ I’m sure they will pick it up. Besides that, you have to clean up the station between guests anyway, so it won’t mean you have to work any harder.”
Billie Jean Mitchell raises a valid point: “Did you ever consider the idea that maybe their few hours in your chair is the only down time they have to eat?” It seems that letting a client have a snack is the least you can do for a fellow busy-bee, caught up in their busy daily lives. After all, stylists are known for eating on-the-fly; wherever and whenever they have a spare second.
Kara Arendsen has to agree: “I say you are paying me, so you can do whatever you want in my chair as long as it does not disturb others in my salon. You can order a pizza and crack a beer in my chair-as long as you are respectable.” After all, “Cleaning up a few wrappers is totally worth the extra tips I receive by not being a jerk [about eating during the appointment],” says Kara Arendsen.
Robin Velasquez suggests changing your way of thinking if munching in the salon is an issue: “If this is your biggest problem, then you’re WAY ahead of the game. Who cares? I’d rather my clients ate in my chair than in some other stylist’s chair.” After all, a noisy or messy client is surely better than none at all!
Alli Eberly says that eating isn’t an issue at all—it’s black and white: “It is posted already on the state board sheet. No food or drinks in service area.” “While I personally don’t mind a client eating in the salon, I would suggest you check your local health codes about food in your salon. All of it is a moot point if you risk being fined $500 for someone eating in the chair,” says Christine Knoche-Becker. Besides the violation of state rules, Alysia Merriman adds, “I have a huge problem with [eating in the salon] as well. I don’t mind people bringing a drink, but when they spread their whole meal out on my station, it makes the salon seem unprofessional.”
David J. Ortiz tells of similar instances: “Where I used to work, people would come in with lunch and eat and drink, then have their appointment. When they would leave, they would also leave empty containers and cups behind everywhere—including my station. We would hang signs and they would eat next to the sign as if it wasn’t there. I say buck up and tell them no food in the salon. It is unsanitary and looks bad for them to be eating. No one wants to clean up after someone else unnecessarily.” Speaking of sanitation, Jenny Lassetter says, “It is very unsanitary to have food stuffs around your work station. I personally think that it wouldn’t be totally unprofessional to ask your clients to respect your work area and not bring in food. Either post a sign or politely ask that your clients eat elsewhere. If they still want to bring food in with them, tell them you will get to them when they are done eating in their car. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s just good business practice to keep everything neat and sanitary.”
Rules and cleanliness aside, many stylists see the chewing and slurping as disrespectful and just plain rude in many cases. Angela Dennison says, “I hate it when clients bring food. Hairs are flying everywhere and most people chomp away with their mouths open— gross! I don’t even chew gum when a client is in my chair; please don’t eat food while I’m doing your hair!” Indeed, doing hair should be the focus of the appointment, as Christine Mckinnon points out: “Clients that eat during an appointment are on the same level as people who eat when they shop. Since when did it become okay to eat in public places other than restaurants? When you buy a piece of jewelry at Tiffany’s, do you encounter your salesperson drinking a latte? There should be the same expectations for stylists. Book a break if you want to eat or drink [during an appointment].”
Cut Some Slack—For Both of You
Eating in the salon is a slippery slope; while you want your clients to feel comfortable and at ease in your chair, potential health code violates and plain old manners can both be called into question. When deciding how to handle a similar situation in your own salon, perhaps the best advice is to tread lightly.
Adam Razoux Ferreira says: “I have to say that I have often encountered uncomfortable situations when a client brings in a “full meal” and proceed to unwrap plastic ware, dress salads, look for a place for trash, drinks etc.—not to mention the potential risks due to allergies. Plus, all the prep involved takes up valuable time that your stylist could spend working with you, as opposed to entertaining you as a dining room server. I say skip the large, full meal and pack light: a bag of almonds, protein bar, or fruit (all of which I stock at my salon for clients). I don’t think asking your client to wait until they are sitting idle while processing to enjoy their lunch is rude at all- just say it with a smile.”
Amy Appel comments: “Many salons offer beverages to clients and some even offer snacks. I don’t mind if clients eat, as long as it’s strictly during down time (processing) and not during the application or cut/blow-dry. If you see that someone brings in something to eat, it’s not unreasonable to kindly tell them that they are welcome to enjoy their meal as long as it doesn’t interfere with the service. I’ve been a stylist for 20 years and find that very rarely do I have to say anything. Most clients know that its common sense not to eat while getting their hair cut. For those that don’t realize this, a kind comment made with a little humor usually does the trick. All salons/stylists are different so do what works within the rules and comfort of you and the salon you work in.”
Just as one hair style or color certainly does NOT fit all, neither do solutions for salon issues. Depending on the client herself, the rules of the salon you work in, and other factors, it is important to consider all aspects of the situation before deciding on an answer to the age old question: to snack or not to snack?
Originally posted on behindthechair.com.